Golf Chipping Best Practice: How to Develop The Most Consistent Shot in Golf
When you miss the green in regulation, do you get nervous and anxious about your chip shot? Or, do you have tons of confidence in your short game?
If you’re in the first group, just know that you are not alone. Many amateur golfers suffer from the chipping yips and don’t have the proper technique for this shot.
But when you develop a dependable chipping technique, it can transform your entire game. You can save shots around the green, and that confidence will likely bleed into other areas of your game too.
In this post, I’ll give you a simple but effective strategy to master chipping so you can get more up and downs.
Chipping vs. Pitching
Before diving into all things chipping, it’s important to first differentiate pitching vs. chipping. Both terms are thrown around in the golf world and used interchangeably, but they are two very different shots.
A pitch shot is used with a more lofted club (usually sand or lob wedge) in order to get the ball up quickly. The goal is to get the ball to stop quickly and not roll out very much. A pitch is used when you are short-sided to the pin and don’t have a ton of green to work with.
In general, this is a harder shot to execute as you need to manipulate the face of the club and take a bigger swing. Which can lead to bigger misses and trouble around the green.
While a chip is a shot that is used with a less lofted club (7 iron to gap wedge) to get the ball rolling like a putt. This shot is used when you have more green to work with and can let the ball release as if you hit a putt.
A chip shot is much easier to execute as the swing is minimal and doesn’t require much setup adjustments. In general, a good rule to follow if you miss the green is putt if possible, then chip, and then pitch if needed.
How to Chip in Golf
The chip shot is one of my favorite shots because it’s consistent and easy to hit even on your “off” days. It’s easy to perform the motions (as it’s a lot like putting) and usually leaves you closer to the hole than a high-lofted pitch shot. This should correlate to easier putts and a lower score at the end of the round.
Before revealing the step-by-step process I encourage you to do your research before hitting the shot. Once you’re by the green, walk off the chip shot and see if you can identify the slopes of the green.
Ask yourself a few questions before picking a club, including:
- How is the ball sitting? How will the lie affect it?
- How will the ball break once it hits the ground?
- Are you chipping into the grain or down the grain?
- Are you landing the ball on an up slope or down slope?
- Where can you leave the shot to leave an uphill putt?
I know it might feel like a lot to think about but the more you go through this process, the faster you will get. Analyzing the shot will make it easier to pick the right club, landing spot, and hopefully hit it closer.
Once you’ve done your homework, here are the five steps to execute chip shots like a professional.
Also Read: 15 Putting Tips To transform Your Short Game
1. Pick the Right Club
First things first, to hit a chip shot, you need to select the proper golf club. Remember, a chip is a lower trajectory shot than a pitch and meant to release to the hole.
This is why you need to choose a less lofted club than a lob or sand wedge. More loft will make the ball go higher and thus, stop quicker (which isn’t our goal).
For most chip shots (sometimes referred to as a bump-n-run), I recommend a gap wedge to 7 or 8 iron. If you’re right around the green, opt for a gap wedge or pitching wedge. If you’re 10-20 yards out, opt for a longer club, as it will release more.
I like to use the same club for most greenside chips because you can start to recognize how far it will carry and eventually release. Make sure to check out our gap wedge loft post to find the right amount of loft for a GW. This club makes it easy to hit chip shots close when you miss the green.
Related: Golf Wedge Buying Guide
2. Choose a Spot
Once you have the right club for the shot, the next thing you need to do is pick a target spot or landing zone. This is where you want the ball to land, then spin, and finally release to the hole like a putt.
Here’s the problem, so many golfers look at the pin instead of their ideal landing spot. Then they hit the ball too far and race it past the hole. The mind focuses on where your eyes last look, so make sure your final glance is at your landing spot, not the hole for chip shots.
To choose a target, it’s always a good idea to read the chip as if it were a putt. Notate if it’s uphill/downhill, breaks right or left, and if there are any tiers as well.
Imagine the ball hitting your spot and then rolling like a putt to the hole. Try to identify an old cup, a spot on the green, or a shadow to make it easy to aim at.
Once you see the shot in your mind, commit to your target and anticipate the roll-out. Then, as you take your practice swings, look at your landing spot, not the pin.
3. Change Your Setup Position
Once you have your landing spot, the next step is to adjust your setup. So much of hitting a crisp, solid chip shot happens before you do anything with the club.
Unlike a full swing, you do not need a large stance. Since the ball is only traveling a few feet to a few yards, you don’t need much lower body action.
Start by creating a narrower stance with 5-6 inches between your feet. Then, make sure your weight is forward (roughly 60-70%) so that you promote a descending blow. If your weight is 50-50 or 40-60, you are much more likely to hit up on the golf ball, causing the dreaded skull shot.
Once your feet and weight are set, the next thing to do is choke up on the golf club. You want to choke up 1-2 inches to shorten the club almost to putter length.
Then stand slightly closer to the ball as if it were a putt. Bring your hands up so the shaft is more up and down, like it is with putting.
Finally, get your hands slightly forward to also promote a downward strike on the golf ball. If you can master the setup, this is 90% of the battle!
4. Don’t Break your Wrists
After you set up correctly, the chipping motion itself is pretty straightforward. You want to take the club back similar to a putt without much wrist movement. A great example of this is Steve Stricker who has one of the most consistent chipping motions in golf.
Do not break your wrists, as it’ll lead to more spin!
Remember, the shot is very short, so you don’t need a big swing. Plus, you want a shorter, more compact swing so that you can execute step number five.
5. Accelerate Through the Golf Ball
The final step to chipping is making sure that you accelerate through the golf ball. Because if you decelerate, all kinds of bad things can happen. That’s why you want a shorter backswing so you can create some speed through the golf ball.
Decelerating will lead to hitting it fat or sailing it over the green.
You can hit it fat because your motion stops and the ball climbs up the club face. This will result in a shot that goes a few feet and leaves you with a long putt. Or, you might raise up as you decelerate and blade it past the hole or over the green.
Finally, don’t forget about tempo. Think of chipping like putting, a simple 1-2 motion is all you need to get the ball to pop off the face and on the green.
Top Questions About Chipping
Still have questions about chipping better and improving your scrambling? Read some of the top questions and answers below.
What is chipping in golf?
Chipping in golf refers to the ball being on the ground more than in the air. Pitching is the opposite where the ball is mostly in the air and doesn’t roll out very much on the ground.
Chipping is more of an “old school” way to do it as the ball rolls mostly like a putt. It’s a simple motion that is typically more consistent than trying to hit high pitch shots with high lofted wedges.
How do you practice chipping?
Chipping is one of the best ways to spend your practice routine. Once you learn this shot, you can save more shots when you miss the green.
My favorite drill is the towel drill. On a chipping green, find a normal chip shot and locate your ideal landing zone as discussed above. Then, place a small hand towel at that spot and try to land the ball on it.
As you get more consistent with your chipping, remove the towel and use smaller targets like a ball mark. This will help you dial in your chipping motion so you’re automatic on the golf course.
What’s the best tip to hit better chips?
In a Golf.com video, top instructor Dave Pelz said to use your hands less with basic chip shots.
According to Dave Pelz, “Many golfers get handsy. They put the ball forward in their stance or in the middle of their stance. If they get anxious, they hit the chip fat. After struggling with fat chips, they can start skulling chips to avoid chunking the ball.”
Remember, chipping is a simple motion that doesn’t require a big swing. Master the fundamentals at address position so you’re more likely to avoid hitting it fat or thin.
This simple chipping approach is a must-have shot if you want to play and score consistently well.
Since most amateurs hit less than 50% of greens, it’s vital to master this simple shot so you can chip it close. The closer you can get chip shots, your odds to make the putt increase dramatically. Not to mention, you might chip it in!
Remember, keep things simple around the green instead of trying to hit a flop or pitch shot. Play the percentages and keep the ball as low to the ground as possible. While it might not look as good as a high shot, getting it up and down more often will make a big difference in your total score.
What’s your favorite club to chip with?
Let us know in the comments.